Taste Royalty: Russian Imperial Stout

Taste the deliciously robust flavors of Russian Imperial Stout, the beer fit for a monarch! For centuries, Tsarists, such as Catherine the Great, have relished in the grandeur that this ale provides. Find out more about the historic brew, from its London origins to its imperial prominence, and discover why its often considered to be the grandest of all beer styles!

Russian Imperial Stout, often referred to simply as Imperial Stout or Imperial Porter, is one of the most renowned and sought-after beer styles in the world. This potent sub-style of Imperial Stout was first brewed in the late 18th century and has since become known as the grandest of all beer styles.

The history of Russian Imperial Stout has its roots in the life of one of the most powerful Russian rulers of all time - Catherine the Great. Catherine ruled Russia from 1762 to 1796, and during her reign she had a special fondness for a certain beer known as London Porter. This beer was brewed by the famous English Anchor brewery, and it was the beer of choice for Catherine, the Grand Duchess of Russia. It was this beer that would eventually become the base for what we now call the Russian Imperial Stout.

The story of Russian Imperial Stout began in 1781 when Catherine expressed her appreciation for the Anchor-brewed Porters. In response to her fondness for these beers, the brewery sent barrels of their finest Porter to St. Petersburg and Moscow. Two years later, in 1783, the brewery sent even more Porter, this time to Catherine's summer home at Tsar's Village. Soon afterwards, the beer became a fixture in Catherine's court.

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Unlike other beers of the time, the Anchor Porter was strong and dark, with an ABV up to 9%. This made it more suitable for the imperial court and the colder climates of Russia. This Porter was actually the first beer brewed in Imperial style, earning it the name Imperial Russian Stout.

Brewing History of Imperial Russian Stout

The Anchor brewery started to brew Imperial Russian Stout in the late 18th century and a recipe for this style of beer remains unchanged until today. As a stronger and darker version of the original Porter, it has become the signature beer of the Russian imperial court and is still widely enjoyed around the world.

The brewing process of Russian Imperial Stout is complex and involves multiple stages. The malt is first steeped in hot water and mashed to release the sugars, then boiled for several hours with hops. After the boiling, the wort is cooled and fermented for several weeks with a special type of yeast. Upon completion of the fermentation process, the beer is transferred to aging barrels to develop its unique flavors and aromas.

Characteristics of Imperial Russian Stout

Russian Imperial Stout is dark and intense in color, with an ABV of 8.5-10%. This is the strongest of all beer styles, and it has plenty of flavor to match. Its flavor profile consists of intense dark chocolate, roasted coffee, and roasted malt flavors. The aroma consists of an intense combination of licorice, molasses, and dark fruits such as plums and prunes.

This beer pairs very well with a variety of dishes, such as barbecued meats, chocolate desserts, and pungent cheeses. It also goes great with smoked trout and dark-meat dishes like duck. One of the most popular food pairings for Imperial Russian Stout is beef stroganoff.

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Serving Imperial Russian Stout

Russian Imperial Stouts should be served in a snifter or tulip glass at 50-59°F. This temperature is near cellar temperature, which helps bring out some of the subtler notes of the beer. The head of the beer should be creamy and very slowly dissipate. Be sure to leave a few minutes between sips to let the beer settle and appreciate the full range of flavors.


Russian Imperial Stout is a beer style that is full of flavor and history. This potent style of Imperial Stout was first brewed in the late 18th century and was popularized by the Empress Catherine the Great. Its brewing process is complex and involves multiple stages, resulting in a powerful, dark beer that has plenty of flavor and aroma to match. When served at the right temperature, it can be a truly delightful beer experience.

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